A weekend of celebration!

We have an exciting weekend ahead of us (at least 2 things).

1.) Tomorrow we will be celebrating 7 years of God’s gracious hand at work in and through us as a church. We will gather together at 4pm at Library Park. The Goodness (food truck) will be ready to serve food. You can also bring a picnic. We will provide Kona Ice (snow cones) and cupcakes for everyone! Please make every effort to join us. Bring a blanket or a lawn chair and a lawn game if you have one, and come prepared to enjoy the family!

2.) Sunday morning we will be commissioning Sergei and Sarah Yepishin to continue the work of planting The Town Church / Greeley. This will be their last Sunday with us at The Town Church / Fort Collins. We will be sending them and their team out with prayer and the celebratory cupcake between services. This has been 4 years in the making. God is at work transforming lives with His gospel and we are grateful beneficiaries!

This weekend is a weekend of celebrating the fact that God is able to do far more abundantly than anything we can ask or think!! You won’t want to miss our gathering together as a family. Be there!

Wrap-Up: What Happened After

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

Read John 21

We’ve come to the end of our long look at the life of Jesus through the eyes of His best friend and disciple, John. What will you remember from this journey through this very personal Gospel? A new picture of Jesus? A reminder of some critical truth? Perhaps just a turn of phrase that turned your heart toward home?

John wrote this testimony that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Mission accomplished?

As we read John 21 today, you have to wonder if it was this last morning around the lake that John remembered most fondly. Sixty years may have seemed short in his memory of that beautiful day in Galilee.

You can’t miss the nostalgic details woven in the story: The sunrise on the water. The smell of the charcoal fire. His familiar voice. The deep scars on His wrists. His slight smile at the number of fish reported in the net. . . .

These are hinge days—in-between Jesus’ resurrection and the beginning of a new age in history. Jesus will leave the earth a couple days from now. If this new season had been left up to the disciples, it would have dried up and died—lasting a couple weeks at best.

But history testifies that is not what happened. The disciples, along with Jesus’ mom and brothers, formed the core of 120 people who could not and would not deny that something supernatural had happened through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. Even better, something supernatural had occurred in them when they believed He was Messiah, Savior, Lord . . . God!

When John remembered that morning at the lake, you have to wonder if he also recalled the faces of those brothers around the breakfast fire who each, in turn, gave his life for the love of Jesus. All of them transformed—one day they were hiding and denying they even knew Jesus—to the next when they ran with the good news to the four corners of the known world.

What happened to them? When these uneducated, unsophisticated, insecure followers of Jesus were filled with the power of God’s Spirit, Acts 17:6 says, “they turned the world upside down.”

And the world is still spinning upside down, thanks to the power of Jesus’ life at work in and through us today. “You will be my witnesses,”—were His last words as He kicked off the earth a couple days later.

Now you’ve read John’s testimony. You have your own testimony, too, if you love the Lord Jesus. Go write His name on the hearts of everyone you meet. Ask God to use you to show them the Way home.

Consider your response: Look for opportunities to share the most amazing news in history—and the most amazing thing that has ever happened to you. Ask the Lord to fill you each day with His Spirit, ready, willing, and able to point others home.

 

-Written by Barb Peil

Day 21: He is Risen Indeed!

But these [signs] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31

 Read John 20

Devotional:   The first Easter morning was one of confusion, misunderstanding, fear and a significant amount of doubt.

Sunday, in the dark, early morning hours—Mary approaches the tomb. She finds the stone door to the tomb has been removed. She does not suspect resurrection. She assumes theft and runs to find Peter and John. When Peter and John hear the news they run back to the tomb. John was a faster runner, but Peter, panting to catch up, was bolder in his entry.

They find the burial clothes folded neatly in the tomb. How did they respond? How would you respond? Put yourself in their sandals. Just two days previous you had seen the lifeless body of Jesus removed from the cross and placed in a tomb. Over the last three years you’ve heard Jesus talk about the resurrection. You even know His prediction of the timing for the resurrection—three days.1 How would you respond?

Peter and John respond by going back to their separate homes. They misunderstand.

Mary doesn’t go home. She’s too upset. Two angels approach Mary. She tells them she’s crying because she doesn’t know why or where someone would have taken the body of Jesus. Jesus Himself appears to Mary inquiring about her sadness. She doesn’t answer. Supposing Jesus to be a gardener, she asks Him if he knows where the body is. Mary is confused, but at the sound of His voice, it is clear. Jesus.

Later that evening the disciples were together. They were scared. They locked the doors. But, if a stone door wouldn’t keep Jesus in, a locked door wouldn’t keep Him out. Jesus appears to the disciples and says, “Peace be with you.”2 Jesus meets their fear with peace . . . and they understand.

Thomas wasn’t there that night, but he certainly heard about these things from the disciples. Thomas doubted. He needed physical proof that Jesus was alive. Thomas doubted and his doubts were left unresolved. Day after day he lived in doubt. Eight days of ongoing doubt – until Jesus appeared to the disciples again. Again, they were hiding behind a locked door. If a stone door wouldn’t keep Jesus in, a locked door wouldn’t keep Jesus out. Jesus stood among them and offered peace to their fear. Jesus offered peace to their doubts.

“Thomas, put your finger in My hand and put your hand in My side. Don’t doubt, but believe.” Did Thomas touch Jesus? Who knows? What we do know is that Thomas’ doubt was replaced with belief.

The first Easter morning was one of confusion, misunderstanding, fear and a significant amount of doubt. Is this Easter morning any different? What are you sensing this morning, Christian? Where is your heart this morning? Jesus says to your confusion, misunderstanding, fear and doubt: “believe.” We are told in John 20:31 that these events have been given to us “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.” In the midst of our confusion, misunderstanding, fear and doubt—Jesus, the Son of God came to give us life.

Today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate life, new life in Christ. He is RISEN INDEED!

1John 2:19 2John 20:19

Consider your response:  Jesus came to live on earth. He came to die. In His resurrection, He came to give us life. Today, what is causing you confusion, misunderstanding, fear and doubt? How does the resurrection of Jesus give you hope in this life and the life to come? Today, rejoice in that hope!

 

-Written by Vince Black

Day 20: The Day Between

“Did I not see you in the garden with him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. John 18:26-27

(No reading today)

It was likely the first sound that Peter heard on that horrible Saturday morning. When he wasn’t sure if the events from yesterday were real or still a nightmare, that blasted rooster’s crowing brought it all back.

On the previous Thursday night when the guards took Jesus from Gethsemane, Peter followed them closely. Too closely. He ended up by the fire in the enemy’s courtyard, burned by their accusing finger.

“I don’t know Him!” He spit out that denial not once, but three times and somewhere in the night, a rooster stretched out its neck and mocked his words. In that ugly, suspended moment, Peter looked over his shoulder and caught the eye of the One he loved, passing through the courtyard on His way to the cross.

Earlier that night Peter had vowed, Others will turn away, Lord, but I won’t. What burned more now?—the smoke in his eyes or the knife in his heart?

It’s easy to be hard on Peter. Talk about how impulsive he was or how he always shot off his mouth. Like he hadn’t heard that before? But something changed in Peter between that devastating moment by the fire on Thursday night and when he stood with the Lord by another fire a couple mornings later.

In the quiet devastation of this Saturday morning . . . after the horror of yesterday . . . and the loneliness of this morning without Jesus, Peter’s guilt could have taken him to the cynical edge. He could have run, never to return. Unbelief could have hardened his soul. For sure, if you don’t deal with sin, it’ll drive you to some awful places.

But that’s not the Peter we’ll meet tomorrow, rushing into Jesus’ empty tomb,1 or the Peter who throws himself into the lake to get to Jesus,2 or the Peter whom Jesus pulls aside in private restoration.3 Did they speak of that awful moment by the fire? That’s between them . . . but what we do know is that Peter’s crisis took him to the right place with God. Sin, rightly understood, prompted repentance. And repentance turned him around to meet the face of Grace.

After this weekend, the Peter we come to know has a whole heart, and a stronger, more humble passion for God that takes him to amazing places with God in the coming decades.

Even on this Saturday on which even Scripture is sorrowfully silent, God is at work in Peter’s broken heart to take him somewhere new.

1John 20:3-9 2John 21:7-9 3John 21:15-17

Consider your response: Sin will shame you into thinking you’ve got no way back to God. But God’s grace offers you an open door. Every time you realize you’re far from God—turn around and run home!

 

-Written by Barb Peil

Day 19: The Word Became Flesh

He said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30b

Read John 19

This has been quite the journey. We have walked along with Jesus through His extraordinary years of life and ministry. He has befriended and rebuked, overturned tables and fed five thousand. He has been silent and wept, walked on water and ridden a donkey. He has been tempted and tried, betrayed and denied. So much more could be said about the Word who is God—Jesus, God in flesh.

As we now face the brutality of the cross, it would do us good to be reminded of John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Did Jesus know in dwelling among us and becoming flesh that His flesh would be exposed in nakedness for all to see? In becoming flesh, did Jesus know that His own flesh would be punctured by thorns, pierced by nails, and stabbed by a spear? Did the Word become flesh know what would become of His flesh?

Indeed He did.

From the cross, the Word-made-flesh, was making arrangements to care for the one who gave birth to His flesh. Naked He came from her womb. Jesus knew God’s plan for His naked flesh to provide the prize for gambling soldiers.1

Did the Word-made-flesh know what would become of His flesh?

Indeed He did.

From the cross, the Word-made-flesh speaks. “I thirst.2” The very One who offered a Samaritan woman eternally thirst-quenching water became thirsty. Jesus knew God’s plan for His suffering to include the constraints of His flesh to be thirsty.3

Did the Word-made-flesh know what would become of His flesh?

Indeed He did.

On the cross, the Word-made-flesh died—bowing His head He spoke—“It is finished.4” To ensure that death was their end, the soldiers broke the legs of those crucified. Because the work of Jesus was finished, they left His legs alone and pierced His side instead. Jesus knew God’s plan for His bones to be spared so His flesh could be speared.5

Did the Word-made-flesh know what would become of His flesh?

Indeed He did. In love, He did.

Naked He came from the womb and naked He went to the tomb.

Suffering, He became thirsty so that we would not.

Bowing His head, finishing His work, His side was speared, His blood was shed.

In great love, the Word-made-flesh knew what would become of His flesh. He knew the Father’s plan of love. He knew the day had come where His words would be made clear—“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.6” Full of grace and truth—perfect in every way—in love and because of our sin, Jesus laid down His life for you and me.

1Psalm 22:18 2John 19:28 3Psalm 69:21 4John 19:30 5Numbers 9:12, Zechariah 12:10 6John 15:13

Consider your response: Read the words to this song about the love of the Father revealed in the death of His Son on the cross:

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life    
I know that it is finished

Consider the deep love of the Father and the finished work of the Son in answering the question—Why is today called Good Friday?

 

-Written by Vince Black

Day 18: The Difficult Will of God

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given Me?” John 18:11

Read John 18

In the middle of a scene of conflict—of swords and torches and soldiers—we see the boldest surrender in history. Jesus tells His friend to lay down his weapon as He prepares to lay down His life. Jesus asks Peter a rhetorical question when He tells him to “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” The underlying implication is: I willingly accept what God has given Me.

This is the great reversal of that first moment when everything went wrong. In the beginning, God withheld from Adam and Eve the fruit of one single tree in an unimaginably large garden. He told them not to eat that fruit from that tree or else they would die. Adam and Eve distrusted God and ate the food He kept from them—the act and motive which brought suffering, death, and separation from God on all of us.

But here that story is flipped over: Jesus accepts the only drink God allows Him. The limitation of God on Jesus is severe. But Jesus knows the Father intimately and trusts Him entirely. So Jesus willingly drinks the cup—a cup which brings suffering, death, and separation from God on Him instead of on us. His surrender to God’s will brings life and peace and the restoration of a relationship with God. Jesus accepts the cup of God’s entire wrath against sin because He knows and trusts the abundant goodness of the Father’s plan—a plan of rescue for us.

How often do we stand with arms crossed, belligerent toward what we know to be God’s will for us? We are children of God, but we act like children of Adam and Eve. They suspected that God was not wholly trustworthy—that He might be denying them something good. Jesus surrendered in trust to the difficult will of God so that He could give us every good thing.1

May we so identify with Jesus Christ that we, too, stretch our arms wide in acceptance of these present trials, praising God for the redemptive work He is able to accomplish through even this.

1 Romans 8:31-39

Consider your response: Are there areas of your life that cause you to distrust the goodness of God’s will for you? Confess this to Him. Then meditate on Romans 8:31-39. Ask the Spirit to help you take what the Father has given you with unflinching trust, resting in His redeeming will and abundant love.

 

-Written by Sarah Yepishin

Day 17: When Jesus Prayed for You

When Jesus had spoken these words, He lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son that the Son may glorify You. And this is eternal life that they know You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. John 17:1

Read John 17

The time had come. No delays. No holding back.

Instead, as Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven, the time hastened and set in motion the progressive, pivotal, strategic plan since Genesis that now was crescendoing in a magnificent symphony, revealing awe and glory for both the Father and the Son.

This was the moment for which Jesus had come. In His obedience to the Father, pure glory was revealed.

The Hebrew word translated “glory” comes from a root that means “heavy” or “weighty,” suggesting an impressive or worthy person or perhaps even a magnificent moment.

That’s the scene we witness in John 17. The Son looks to the Father to whom He will glorify and in return receives glory from Him. Jesus’ prayer sets in motion the reason He came—His life’s purpose: making eternal life possible for those who believe in His substitutionary death for them. The price for sin: paid in full. His resurrection: proof that Jesus’ death was received and accepted by a holy God. The transaction, complete. His Father’s plan: accomplished.

John wants us to know Truth. The last verse of this gospel explains in part what we will someday experience in whole, “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”1

Life in His name—this life is not to be found in the material worldly goods or idols of pleasures but in knowing Him in the fullness of His love, mercy, strength and grace. We can know Him as our strong tower to whom we may run in our weakness or distress. We can know Him as our provider, defender and protector. He longs that you might know Him better so that, “you might trust in the name of the Lord and rely on” your God.2

Rely on Him as the “El Shaddai,” the all-sufficient, all-powerful God who poured Himself out for you on the cross. He beckons you to come to Him when you are weary3 and invites you to taste and see that He is good and a trustworthy refuge.4 Your name is inscribed on the palm of His hand.5 He can never forget you.

He prayed for you on the night before the cross. He prays for you now.6

Do you know Him?

1John 20:31 2Isaiah 50:10 3Matthew 11:28 4Psalm 34:8 5Isaiah 49:16 6Romans 8:34

Consider your response: Knowledge of the eternal One is the incredible journey elevated by His inspired Word. Aspire to be well read and well versed with the One who has loved you since the beginning of time. What steps are you taking to know Him better?

 

-Written by Jeanette Drees

Day 16: God Knows All and Knows Best

But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. John 16:6-7

Read John 16

“Omniscience” has never been one of those qualities that people embroider on pillows—but it should be, if you like that sort of thing.

Apart from God, our impressions of those who “know it all” are less than flattering, falling somewhere between the person who always wins at Trivial Pursuit (even that really old edition at your grandparents’ place) and George Orwell’s Big Brother from the dystopian novel 1984.

These examples hardly reflect God’s omniscience. In no way can these be used to know more about God.

Thankfully, in Jesus, we have the complete and perfect representation of God the Father.1 We look closely at Jesus so that we might more clearly know the Father.

How is God’s “knowing all things” uniquely different? Unlike the Trivial Pursuit know-it-all, He is not limited to past or current events. God knows everything—past, present and future—including both the actual and the possible. And unlike Big Brother, He need not employ surveillance methods to see into the hearts and minds of humans.

John 16 records one of the final conversations that Jesus had with His disciples. With perfect knowledge of what they would face following His crucifixion, Jesus provides them with promises, predictions and reassurance. Given that some of His warnings included displacement and persecution, at least a few of the disciples must have wondered: “How is this helpful?”

Here again, God, through Jesus, shows Himself to be completely unlike us. God combines His perfect knowledge with perfect wisdom. Each time Jesus explains to the disciples what will happen, He also explains to them how this is all by God’s good design and for their good. What’s more, Jesus has known these things all along, judiciously selecting this exact moment to share the news with them.

Jesus reveals that His words have been and always will be perfectly timed, and guided by three things: His knowledge of future events, His understanding of the hearts of His enemies and His disciples, and the wisdom of knowing the absolute best way to accomplish His Father’s plans.

1 John 14:9

Consider your response: In the midst of what could have easily been interpreted by the disciples as abandonment, God was making possible what they needed most eternally, in atonement by the blood of Jesus, and temporally, in the soon-to-come Holy Spirit. Rest assured, God knows best what you need in your circumstances.

 

-Written by Nick Wolverton

Day 15: The Beauty & Terror of the Gospel

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. John 15:5-6

Read John 15

Jesus’ words in John 15 are beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Beautiful and hopeful for the person who finally comes to the end of themselves. Terrifying and haunting for His children who live passive, prideful, self-reliant lives.

Jesus contrasts these two contrasting realities as He teaches a deep Kingdom truth to His disciples. What Paul will later use chapters and books to unpack, Jesus states here in a concise, vivid word picture.

The Gospel is beautiful. The message of the Gospel can only truly be understood by the brokenhearted, the poor, the bankrupt. John Newton, who wrote the words to the hymn “Amazing Grace,” wrote:

“The Gospel is . . . not for the wise and the self-righteous, for those who think they have good hearts and good works to plead—but for the guilty, the helpless, the wretched, for those who are ready to perish; it fills the hungry with good things—but it sends the rich away empty!”

It is only when we look up to the Gospel from a low place, that we see the breathtaking beauty of His grace extended to us as sinners. From this vantage point, Jesus’ call to abide in Him is both a welcome and reassuring invitation.

The Gospel is terrifying. But don’t miss the warning on Jesus’ lips in John 15. Every follower of Christ wants their lives to matter, to invest it in something eternal. Jesus describes this as having a fruitful life that comes from abiding in Him. When we don’t abide in Him, Jesus said our lives are like dry, withered branches that are tossed into the fire. What a tragic, terrifying waste of life.

Jesus’ call to every one of His followers includes both a reward and a consequence. The bad news of our sinful condition shines a spotlight on the Good News. The Gospel is beautiful because, in spite of our sin and rebellion, His plan is to graft branches back into the vine of Christ and make us His fruitful followers.

Consider your response: Both facets of this passage are truth – communicated to us from God for our benefit. Will you plead with the Holy Spirit to give you a deeper understanding of God’s perfect character and a longing to abide in Christ more deeply?

 

-Written by Jeff Bristol

Day 14: Jesus: The Way Home

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going. John 14:3-4

Read John 14

The door closes with a thud and my face is the first to feel the thaw of indoor warmth. I drop my bags and my shoulders sigh with relief. Taking a deep breath, I note the smell of this familiar place and hear the voice that greets me daily: “Welcome home, my love.”

A sense of home is a hunger of the human heart. Jesus tells His disciples that He is leaving them, but assures them that He is preparing for them an eternal Home: “If it were not so, would I have told you I was going to prepare a place for you? … That where I am, there you may be as well.

But the disciples aren’t quite sure what this means. Where is Jesus going? What does that mean for Him—or for them? Into this confusion Jesus concludes confidently, “… And you know the way to where I am going.” I’m thankful for doubting Thomas’ honesty or we would miss Jesus’ reassuring response. Thomas confesses Lord, we have no clue where you are going. So, how can we know the way there?

Jesus said to him, “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Jesus does not leave the disciples—or us—with a map or itinerary, but He offers Himself. There is no travel schedule or “X”-marked map, but Jesus Himself is the way to the Father. The road to our eternal Home is not marked out in red routes, but found in the very wounds of our Savior. He is the Way that leads us to the Father, He is the Truth that keeps our compass set, and He is the Life that sustains us on the journey.

In His kindness, God did not leave us with anything less than Himself.

In seasons of suffering or doubt, it is easy to wonder with Thomas if we truly know the way to our eternal Home. In these times, Christian, look to Jesus—to His risen body that promises us that death will not hold us, and His ascension that assures that a way has been made for God’s people to live in God’s presence.

Christian, you know the way to where He has gone: Jesus. Jesus is our way Home, and His is the voice we will one day hear, “Welcome Home, my love.”

Consider your response: Spend some time thanking God that He left you with nothing less than Himself. Invite His Spirit to lead you today and every day as we journey to our eternal Home.

 

-Written by Amy Gannett